The Department of Political Science and Public Administration conducts high-quality research that is both relevant for academia and for society. Within the department, the research is organized in three research groups: two groups work from a public administration angle and one from a political science perspective. Both the theoretical and the methodological basis for the public administration and political science research are highly diverse. This diversity of ideas and the confrontation of insights of different origins make it interesting and offer grounds for developing innovative ideas and to contribute to a large variety of bodies of knowledge in the different fields of our research.

New Public Governance (NPG): The research program of public administration

The central theme of the public administration research is ‘New Public Governance’. This concerns the organization and quality of public administrations, with special attention for sectors such as security and the welfare state. With this central theme we connect with relevant developments in society, economics, government and politics and the new control mechanisms of the government, society and market arising from this. This research is conducted within two research groups:

  • Governance of Quality is focused on several pressing social problems, which are crucial for the quality of living together in society, and at the question of how governance structures and arrangements (could) influence this.
  • Quality of Governanceemptyfocuses on the quality of governance and the government itself. Specifically, research is conducted into which characteristics of governance structure and policy are determining the quality of governance. Accordingly, it identifies which consequences this has for the process of achieving better governance. 

In 2014, an international research evaluation committee assessed the program's relevance to be excellent (4.5 out of 5) and its quality, productivity & viability very good (4 out of 5).

Multilayered Governance in EUrope and Beyond (MLG): The research program of political science

Covering all three main subdisciplines of political science, the research program of political science examines the scope, institutions and agency of multilevel governance. The program's three main research questions are:

  • Scope: To what extent does the emergence of multi-layered governance actually overtake or transform political structures above (e.g. inter-regional and global institutions) and below (traditional, hard-wired institutions of domestic and local government) European integration?
  • Institutions: Which institutional arrangements can ensure policy effectiveness and democratic legitimacy in multi-layered settings?
  • Agency: How does multi-layered governance affect the motivations and capacity of elites to adopt decisions and steer society?

All (senior) researchers in the MLG program work on at least two of these questions. This diversity is also highly visible in the different cross-cutting topics that political scientist focus on, such as European integration, political parties, elite networks and environmental, social and foreign policy. In 2013, an international research evaluation committee assessed all aspects of the program - quality, productivity, relevance & viability - to be excellent (4.5 out of 5).


Many researchers of the department participate actively in ACCESS Europe - a cooperation between the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and the University of Amsterdam that offers a platform for research, education and public debate about Europe, the European Union and its member states.

The department also takes an active role in developing the newly established research institute of the Faculty of Social Sciences, the Institute for Societal Resilience (ISR). The ISR aim is to understand, explain and possibly offer solutions for the manifold current societal challenges, such as international conflicts, financial crises and concerns about the viability of the welfare state.

ISR focuses on societal resilience. Four (sub)themes will be leading: